On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County, Indictment No. 06-09-1374.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Fisher and Espinosa.
Defendant pled guilty to one count of receiving stolen property, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-7, and one count of possession of heroin with intent to distribute within 1000 feet of school property, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7, pursuant to a plea agreement and was sentenced accordingly. In this appeal he presents one issue, that the search warrant issued lacked a sufficient basis for a finding of probable cause because it was "based solely on third party hearsay." We affirm.
The State made application to the court for the issuance of a search warrant for defendant's home based upon the affidavit of Officer Karla Chendak of the New Brunswick Police Department. Officer Chendak attested to her own experience as a police officer and training in narcotics investigations. She further stated that approximately one month earlier, a confidential informant (CI) provided information that he or she had purchased heroin from a man named Steven Reichard. Officer Chendak stated that the CI was known to be a reliable informant who had provided information in the past that had resulted in arrests and convictions for narcotics offenses. The CI provided a street address for these purchases and stated that Reichard sold heroin from that location at all hours of the day and night. The information received from this CI was consistent with information received a few weeks earlier from another informant of proven reliability.
Officer Chendak stated further that Reichard was known to the New Brunswick police from past narcotics arrests and convictions, including four felony narcotics convictions.
In the investigation that followed, the CI made four controlled purchases of heroin from defendant over a period from the last week of June 2006 to the first week of July 2006. Officer Chendak represented that in each case the CI contacted defendant to make the purchase, was searched for contraband, provided with cash, observed entering the address previously supplied by the CI and exiting thereafter and turned over a quantity of heroin to the officer.
The search warrant was sought and issued for a search of the address provided by the CI where he or she had been observed entering and exiting to make the controlled purchases.
After carefully considering the record and briefs, we are satisfied that defendant's argument lacks sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion, R. 2:11-3(e)(2), beyond the following comments.
"[A] search executed pursuant to a warrant is presumed to be valid and . . . a defendant challenging its validity has the burden to prove 'that there was no probable cause supporting the issuance of the warrant or that the search was otherwise unreasonable.'" State v. Jones, 179 N.J. 377, 388 (2004) (citation omitted). The issuing authority "must be satisfied that there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed, or is being committed, at a specific location or that evidence of a crime is at the place sought to be searched." State v. Sullivan, 169 N.J. 204, 210 (2001). "Information related by informants may constitute a basis for probable cause, provided that a substantial basis for crediting that information is presented." Jones, supra, 179 N.J. at 389 (citing Sullivan, supra, 169 N.J. at 212).
In this case, the supporting affidavit did not rely exclusively upon uncorroborated hearsay. Officer Chendak attested to the CI's proven reliability and the fact that consistent information regarding narcotics activities at the location searched had been provided from another reliable source. The officer's supervision of four controlled purchases from defendant at that address was more than sufficient to provide "a substantial basis for crediting [the] information" that evidence of narcotics trafficking activities was present at the location to be searched.